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Old 02-06-2013, 09:55 AM   #1
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Default 72 hour safe harbour provisions?

Hi all,

I'm wondering if someone knows enough about international maritime law to answer this question.

On a trip a few years back from Australia to New Zealand we stopped, although it was not our intention to do so, at Lord Howe Island (an Australian territory). Needing urgent engine repairs we hove to off the island and were eventually escorted in by the customs official.

Enquiring as to whether we would be breaking any laws by entering Australian territory without prior notification (which is required for all vessels), he replied that we were not because our stay was intended to be short, we needed repairs, and any nation state must offer vessels in need of repair a safe harbour for up to 72 hours in order to complete those repairs.

Having assumed that was gospel after hearing it again on arrival in NZ, I am yet to see any written down statute in international law, maritime law or similar saying that this is indeed the case.

Any ideas?
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Old 02-06-2013, 03:33 PM   #2
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Here's the "law":

UNCLOS - United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
See Innocent Passage In the Territorial Sea Article 17 and Article 18.

Not 72 hours - just what is needed in case of emergency. Pretty unrestrictive, recognizing that emergencies and repairs have not time schedules.

Story #1: When we were traveling from Vanuatu to New Caledonia we encountered severe weather and dangerous seas into the pass bringing us to Noumea. So we anchored in a bay in the lee of an island several miles outside of the pass. We hoisted our "Q" flag and stayed on board the boat for the several days until wind and seas abated sufficiently to allow us to safely sail on to Noumea. There were plenty of officials (Gendarmes, we assumed) on the island we anchored off - they waved to us each morning as we came out into the cockpit. No hassles when we arrived in Noumea.

However, we heard about several boats who had entered the pass late in the afternoon, and decided to anchor and go ashore. When they continued on their way to check in at Noumea, they were "arrested" and fined a significant amount of money (about $600 in 1993, if my memory serves me right) for their infraction - wanting to walk around is not an emergency.

Story #2: After a spate of really bad weather and dreadful sailing, we arrived in Luganville, Vanuatu. Cruising friends arrived several days later, on a holiday, and couldn't check in until the next day. Here's the rest of the story: Sailing from the Solomon Islands to Vanuatu on the cruising yacht Watermelon. , in a long log about our trip - scroll down to "Eddie and Barbara". Short version - Barbara had what might have been a medical emergency, Eddie called the Port Captain, and every courtesy imaginable was extended to them, even though they had not checked in yet. This is the way government officials should behave.
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Old 04-30-2013, 10:00 PM   #3
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When I sailed in the Med some time ago, this was standard practice there. If it was a gale or more, you could take a slip in a marina at no cost until the blow ended, but if you did not leave immediately after the storm warnings were dropped, you would be charged for the whole stay. Never had a problem with the officials and I can't remember about that aspect of it all.
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Old 04-30-2013, 10:13 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by capta View Post
When I sailed in the Med some time ago, this was standard practice there. If it was a gale or more, you could take a slip in a marina at no cost until the blow ended, but if you did not leave immediately after the storm warnings were dropped, you would be charged for the whole stay. Never had a problem with the officials and I can't remember about that aspect of it all.
Were those public marinas (government run) or private? Here in the US public marinas often have a 2 to 6 hour visit allowed even in fair weather. A couple government run harbors also allow people to tie up during gales along the lines of what you're saying--but in those cases that I've heard of, the visiting boat can't come into a slip, they must tie up along the fuel dock or pumpout station (assumption being no one is getting fuel or pumping out during a gale, I suppose). Did you hail the marina on VHF and they directed you to a slip?
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Old 04-30-2013, 10:45 PM   #5
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Were those public marinas (government run) or private? Here in the US public marinas often have a 2 to 6 hour visit allowed even in fair weather. A couple government run harbors also allow people to tie up during gales along the lines of what you're saying--but in those cases that I've heard of, the visiting boat can't come into a slip, they must tie up along the fuel dock or pumpout station (assumption being no one is getting fuel or pumping out during a gale, I suppose). Did you hail the marina on VHF and they directed you to a slip?
Honestly, I don't remember, but I believe it must have been either. Never used the VHF back then, just pulled in and was directed to a place to put the boat. Most often we got the free dockage by chance because we were exhausted and wanted a break on deliveries. It was the 70's & 80's; haven't been back since. Seems like we won't be going back either with schengen as it stands. As Americans, we're a bit hesitant to spend 90 days in North Africa awaiting re-entry. I did try to contact the EU on their website, but they didn't have the courtesy to reply.
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Old 05-01-2013, 01:30 AM   #6
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Oh, yea, everything was different everywhere in the 70's-80's. When I hear stories from cruisers, I'm amazed at how much easier and more generous everyone was when you went places. Now, everyone wants their money from the visitors--and the fines if they apply.
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